OK Kids Korral gets a boost from the Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic 

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The Toby Keith Foundation hosts its 13th annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic June 3-4 to benefit OK Kids Korral.

The foundation is the nonprofit that raises funds for the Korral, which offers free housing for families with children being treated for cancer at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center.

“Last year, we had a really successful year,” said Juliet Nees-Bright, Toby Keith Foundation executive director. “We’re just grateful for anything we can get and the supporters that keep coming back each year.”

This year, the foundation hopes to raise over $700,000. The weekend kicks off with the Denim & Diamonds gala June 3 at Riverwind Casino, 1544 Oklahoma Highway 9, in Norman.

Invited guests should wear comfy jeans and jazz up outfits with bling before settling in for an evening of food and bidding on auction items such as a week for five couples at Keith’s Cabo beach house, a stay at Wyoming’s Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, an African safari and more.

Keith serves as auctioneer, and for the first time, guests can participate in mobile bidding, using their phones to bid on items, Nees-Bright said.

An OK Kids Korral family will speak during the gala about the Korral’s impact.

One of Keith’s band members lost his daughter to cancer. While she was being treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the family stayed in a place like OK Kids Korral.

“Toby remembers the family telling him [they] were in this cancer haze and in shock, but there was this place that said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. You can stay here,’” Nees-Bright said. “I think that made a big impact on Toby, and he wanted something similar in his own community.”

More than 18,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed each year in Oklahoma, which makes it the second leading cause of death among Oklahomans, according to The Toby Keith Foundation.

At any given time, OK Kids Korral hosts 16 families, and children visit an average of five times each year for about five days per stay, Nees-Bright said.

OK Kids Korral serves between 120 and 150 families a year.

The golf classic is the foundation’s biggest fundraiser, raising between $600,00 and $1 million annually, Nees-Bright said.

The double shotgun golf classic begins 8 a.m. June 4 with 20 teams playing an 18-hole course at Belmar Golf Club, 1025 E. Indian Hills Road, in Norman. The afternoon shotgun starts 1:30 p.m. with another 24 teams.

Each team has six players, including a celebrity player, and Keith and other local celebrities, including former OU football players, are randomly assigned to teams.

Trophies are awarded for first and second place in the morning and afternoon shotguns.

At the end of the day, 20 players compete to be entered to win a new truck in the Built Ford Tough Shootout.

“We’re excited that it’s kept going and growing,” Nees-Bright said. “We see so many of the same people, but each year, we have new folks that join us. It’s a really great experience with 750 people coming together to support one cause.”

Visit tobykeithfoundation.org or call 405-271-6552.

Print headline: Swinging success, Annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic raises funds for OK Kids Korral June 3-4.

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Alissa Lindsey

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